I mentioned earlier that I’m doing a lot more producing. Well, I don’t know even if producing is the right word, but in my mind there are two sides of the things I do, if that makes sense.
Both are creative and generative, certainly but maybe it’s a left brain/right brain thing?
So there is producing and there is performance. Performance, well that seems easiest to define. Literally, the creative process of acting, singing, dancing, improvising, writing (writing creatively fiction, poetry especially), both in rehearsal and on stage. There is a thrill like no other, the ability to be up there and be in this space where amazing energy can soar, aim, focus, disperse and reconvene in moments. Also, it’s pretty awesome to experience the feedback of an audience, to hear them laugh or gasp or sigh or, yeah, applaud. Rehearsal has it’s own unique pleasures, less stress and also more goofing off, but also allowing that chaos to have reign and seeing what happens.
Of course the lows are pretty low. I find the deepest insecurities in performing. Am I worth watching? Is this satisfying to the audience? Where do I fit in? How did I do? It’s kind of a self-focused kind of deal, I guess. It’s inside, given outside, taken back inside and sometimes that feedback loop is so hot you believe that’s the only way to know “how” you are doing. Not a self measuring loop, but an other-measuring loop where my value gets determined by the response of others, instead of by myself.
Also, I have the hardest time really giving in to the chaotic process of how creation works. Lots of times it just plain doesn’t look like anything is making sense and then all of a sudden, in that darkest hour…something beautiful blooms. My time with One More Night proved that the organic and chaotic can lead to beautiful flexible structure.
Producing is very different. I find it much more ordered, more intuitive too, more task oriented (though the people process is involved deeply). It’s stressful and taxing in a work on the computer, put out fires, manage issues kind of ways, but I generally feel pretty competent. If performance is art, then is producing science? Not really. Good producing provides a scaffold on which the artistic vision and chaos grow. Kind of like putting stakes in a tomato garden. Or something. But that itself seems too linear. The scaffold moves and changes and grows and responds to the needs of the artists. But it is an entirely different mindset. I find it hard to produce and perform in the same weekend, like during my time with The Ladies Are Funny Festival. I needed to only focus on producing. I can’t seem to wear two hats..
Also, I am not good with spreadsheets.
(Writing is a weird hybrid, which perhaps I’ll tackle in another space. It’s organized and flowy and moody . But there is no immediate audience, little feedback (which frankly I’d like to get more of, even in comments), and so it feels a little like just tossing something out there and walking away.)
There is perhaps a third facet of my life coming about, perhaps a bridge between the two. I can’t call it teaching per se, but it’s part of my job, and it was certainly part of my graduate degree in leadership and human systems. Some of the things I do involve diplomacy, lobbying, managing people certainly, but in great part mentoring them, watching tracking and supporting them. There is coaching, consulting and occasionally cajoling. There is also strategic planning, directing and all kinds of other big things, like social justice work, human relations work, people people people.
I think what’s sort of stunning about where I am now, is that I am seeing more and more integration between all of the parts. There is performance at work, there is producing at play, there is nurturing in both and all involve an expression of creativity which at times leaves me energized but lately leaves me aware that as I age, and as I work the stakes are higher, the meaning is deeper (at least for me) and the energy placed in the world comes at a slightly higher cost. I’ve never been all that good at nurturing myself (yoga, meditation, massage etc) but I find I need more times of silence to regenerate.
To that end, I’ve planned a weekend (one can only hope the plan manifests) where I’m going to unplug from social media and the computer, send the kids off to this or that place, and just soak in things that feed me. I’m gonna try that and see what comes.
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